Esther Simpson’s occupation ends despite Leeds University not encountering student protesters

After 12 days and no meeting with university management, Student Rebellion said this was not the end of their fight

University of Leeds students who have occupied a lecture hall for nearly two weeks have ended their protest despite the university either not meeting with them or promising to cut ties with fossil fuel companies.

Student Rebellion occupied the Esther Simpson Amphitheater for 12 days and refused to end their occupation until the university “updated its responsible investment policy to include a ban on investment in oil companies, gas, coal and mining industries”.

However, they left the Esther Simpson amphitheater on Sunday evening without having obtained a meeting with the management of the University.

Student Rebellion alleged that the University “shown no intention of engaging with us except with threats of explosion and legal action” and said “this is indicative of our institution’s disregard for the student voices and the broken system that silences our peers”.

In an Instagram post, Student Rebellion said, “Despite the university’s refusal to engage with students, we are leaving anyway after accomplishing a lot over the past two weeks. We have found and strengthened bonds with allies new and old.

“In the three unions that offered us their solidarity. In other student groups who share our frustrations with management’s mishandling of legitimate and pressing student concerns.

“In everyone who has mobilized with us, organizing and coming to rallies, coming to our space to offer incredible workshops, bringing delicious food, leaflets, even just offering a friendly face at the window.

Each of you has made a difference for the movement. But this is only the beginning.”

Student Rebellion said its strength “lies in the power of collective action, solidarity and humanity” and called on “everyone to recognize and act on our shared responsibility”.

A University of Leeds spokesperson said: “The University of Leeds Climate Plan sets out the University’s goals, actions and investments to achieve net zero by 2030. The scope of the plan covers our teaching and research and operational activities, and our staff and the student community have been involved in its development and have key roles in its implementation.

“In accordance with our Climate Plan, we are redirecting our research and teaching away from the fossil fuel sector. We continue to work with energy companies where the work aims to reduce carbon emissions or accelerate the transition to a low carbon future.

“As of 2019, our Climate Active investment strategy means that we have not invested in any company whose main activity is the extraction of fossil fuels, or which derives significant income from this extraction.

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